When we have a plan, we feel ease and comfort in the fact that we are in control of what happens next and can predict the outcome. However, when routine must step aside due to time demands or simply a spontaneous occasion, we must enlist a new set of skills to help us in the moment. Some of us are faced with this task on a daily basis but for some, it’s a rare event. A common example of where this situation may arise is when home-packed lunch is forgotten or food prep just wasn’t priority this week. We are then left to navigate a food court with a goal to come out the other side feeling good within. I am here to say, its possible!
To help ensure your healthy routine doesn’t come undone when stepping into unfamiliar territory, all it takes is a little awareness and healthy education. Remember, a single deviation from your usual healthy plan is never a failure and should not end with guilt; it’s simply a learning event. We must be able to eat outside our routine without guilt, its all part of having a healthy relationship with food!
Making fast food Healthy…
To help you make the best picks when out and about here are a few fast food tips to be aware of:
Protein is critical for appetite control and blood sugar balance. Avoid skimping on protein, a lot of fast food items provide a whopping dose of carbs and not much else, here are some ways around this:
- Swap 1 sushi roll with 1 plate of sashimi to create a more balanced meal
- Select rice paper rolls with prawns or grilled chicken inside
- Bring a handful of raw nuts from home to add to salads
- Replace croutons in salads with a serve of fetta cheese
- Turn a wrap into a salad and add extra protein
Beware of Hidden Sugars and preservatives
Sadly, the taste of some fast foods can be too good to be true and are full of sugar and preservatives. Such health sabotages are commonly lurking in dressings and sauces. If in doubt, ask for sauces/dressings on the side or skip altogether. You can even try stashing some tamari (gluten-free soy) in your handbag or desk.
We are often lured into fast food places by a false sense of saving. However, 25% extra, double patty, buy one get one free does no body any favours! The way around such temptation is to know your limits, know what you body needs and place health before the possibility of a gold coin saving. Focus on eating the right portion for you according to your hunger and in line with what you would usually pack yourself.
Add Extra Vegetables
It can be difficult to get your veggie hit when dining grab and go style. Instead of a side of fries order a small salad, a vegetable soup, green juice or ask for an extra serve of vegetables if designing your own salad/roll.
Fast food is made in mass quantities and often according to strict budgets. This of course does not allow for the highest quality of ingredients to be used. A major down fall can be the type of oil used to cook, fry and dress foods. Where possible, avoid fried foods and oil-dressed salads; instead opt for fresh prawns, salmon, tuna or steamed/poached chicken and dressing-free salads. Using diced avocado in replace of a dressing is a healthy way around this.
Healthy Picks On the go
- Design your own salad and include a source of protein (eg lean chicken, salmon, tuna, fetta cheese), plenty of vegetables and a source of wholegrain carbohydrates (eg brown rice, quinoa or wholemeal pasta)
- Sushi and sashimi
- Small tomato or vegetable based soup with small side salad
- Clear Asian soup with rice noodles and vegetables
- Rice paper rolls with prawns/grilled chicken – watch the dipping sauce
- Wholegrain roll with salad and lean protein
- Rice noodle salads – watch the dressing
- Smoothies – opt for an added source of protein or bring 2 x boiled eggs from home
- Breakfast at lunch: poached eggs on sourdough with avocado or simply avocado and fetta cheese on sourdough
The easiest way to prevent ravenous hunger and blood sugar swings from making lunch decisions for you is being armed with healthy snacks. Here are some suggestions to keep appetite in check:
- 1-2 x boiled eggs
- 1 piece of fruit and small handful raw nuts
- Natural yoghurt with fruit and, nuts and seeds
- Wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese and tomato or hummus and avocado
- Vegetable based dips with vegetable sticks
- Home-made smoothie
- Green juice and small handful nuts
- Home-made muesli bar or slice
- 1 slice sourdough with smashed avocado or nut butter
As you can see, with a little healthy education on board, we can all move confidently through what may be, uncharted waters and make the best decisions for health!